Adults with autism living at home or in non-family settings: positive and negative aspects of residential status


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Abstract

BackgroundVery little is known about the context of caregiving by parents of adults with autism or about the perceived impacts of continued patterns of co-residence vs. out-of-family living. In the present study, maternal assessments of residential status, involvement with adult children living in a non-family setting, and the impacts on mothers of their residential arrangements were examined.MethodsMothers from 133 families of adults (aged 22 years and older) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) completed questionnaires as part of a longitudinal study on family caregiving. Mothers completed open-ended questions regarding the positive and negative aspects of their child's residential arrangement. Mothers also completed scaled questions regarding their satisfaction with their child's residential arrangement, the different ways in which people's lives change after a relative moves from the home, and the frequency of contact with their son or daughter.ResultsMothers found co-residing with their adult child to be of greatest positive benefit to the family while those living apart found this residential arrangement of greatest benefit to the son or daughter with ASD. The greatest negative consequences for co-residing mothers were understood to fall on families, while mothers felt the majority of negative consequences for those that lived apart. There was a high level of contact and maternal involvement between the mother and adult child with ASD even after out-of-home placement.ConclusionsResidential status, as appraised by mothers, has varying impacts on the individual with ASD, on the family, and on mothers as individuals and caregivers. The present analysis suggests the multifaceted and highly contingent maternal experience associated with where her child with ASD lives. Among families whose children live elsewhere, there is an impressive amount of continued contact between these families and their son/daughter.

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